Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Amazingly, there are still NASCAR fans that profess not to like the Chase for the Championship points format in Nextel Cup. Of course, that system was introduced by NASCAR's Chairman of the Board/CEO, Brian France, and initiated at the start of the 2004 season. In the beginning, it was easy to understand the initial outcry from those that for multiple reasons had felt that NASCAR was moving too far and too fast from their roots. Now, though, continued resistance from fans has turned puzzling, as the Chase has done nothing but a world of good for the sport.
Maybe that resistance comes from the desire to keep things the same. Change is difficult for many of us, and NASCAR has in the last several years made some decisions that would test the resolve of even the most liberal minded of fans to continue to follow the support with the loyalty that they had previously demonstrated. Race fans liked tracks such as North Wilkesboro and Rockingham, and NASCAR simply pulled the rug out from under them, without remorse. In short order, the Southern 500, the Labor Day tradition of racing at Darlington, was moved to California. In their place, more and more tracks have been added that just didn't look, feel or smell like the NASCAR that these fans grew up with and endeared them to the sport. Brian France is seen by some as the person easiest to blame, the one responsible for the loss of some of NASCAR loyalists’ fondest memories.
Well, it’s true things have changed over the last 20 years in NASCAR, and changes have seemed to be more frequent and dramatic since Brian France took charge less than three years ago. The sport has grown, and become very much a mainstream attraction on a nationwide scale. Some longtime fans understandably resent that no one bothered to consult them as to what they would like to see in the way of improving the sport. It is no longer a south of the Mason-Dixon line sport, having shed almost any lingering reminders of its beginnings. But these changes, good or bad, were all business decisions arrived at by NASCAR's front office management to maximize present and future profits. After all, that is what successful businesses do; they grow, change and are flexible in making changes that are believed to benefit the business in the long run.
No matter how much fans may like the racing, the competition itself is, to NASCAR, a commodity that they are continually looking to package for sale at the highest price and to the largest number of fans possible. Some of the many changes NASCAR has implemented can be debated as to whether in the long run they are good for the sport, but the overhauling of the point system to allow for what is a playoff system for auto racing is a gift that we should only thank Brian France and NASCAR for.
NASCAR has the longest season of any major professional sport in America and, as such, it is only reasonable to expect that spectator interest will wane at different times during the long season. We all look forward with renewed anticipation at Daytona in February at Daytona as our drivers prepare for the season-opening 500, and that excitement generally continues at least through the spring and early summer. However, along the way NASCAR has known that fans become distracted by numerous other activities vying for their attention, including fans’ interests in major league baseball, and, later in the year, college and professional football. At a point just after halfway of the NASCAR Cup season, things become very much "same old, same old" to all but the most avid of race fans. By August, as football games and other summer activities begin to compete with NASCAR's thirst for viewers, a large segment of race fans must make a decision as to where they are going to focus their time limited interests.
In 2003 B.C. (Before Chase) the decision as to whether to continue to follow the Nextel Cup season exclusively or to divert some or all of a fan’s attention elsewhere was, in many cases, not a difficult decision to arrive at. Often, by midseason it had become clear that possibly three or four, but more likely only two drivers stood any chance of winning the championship, and if that particular fan’s favorite driver wasn't one of them, the rival NFL game looked much more appealing. In truth, depending on whom a fan supported, organizing the sock drawer seemed equally interesting. The newness of the season had worn off, hopes had been squashed, and it was time to satisfy the need for entertainment somewhere else.
The 2006 season would, B.C., be a contest between Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson to win the Championship. Not to bust anyone's bubble, but fan favorites such as Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and defending champion Tony Stewart would now be walking a tightrope between doing enough to finish in the Top 10 and making changes in their organizations to hopefully improve enough to compete for the Championship next season. Any hope of winning it all this year would have evaporated weeks ago. Instead, thanks to Brian France's innovative decision to establish the Chase format, fans of those drivers are still watching each race intently, and those drivers account for a very large percentage of all NASCAR fans.
There is no guarantee that all of the most popular drivers will be included in the Top 10 when the field is set for the Chase to the Championship, and, of course, there shouldn't be any guarantees. However, some will inevitably make the final cut, and for those that don't, the races leading up to the last ten races provide much more hope and interest to the fans of those drivers than they would have had under the old point system. NASCAR enthusiasts can now follow the sport from season's beginning to end with a true sense of excitement and interest as to the final outcome of the long season. Now, on August 9th, 2006, there are still at least thirteen drivers that could realistically become this year's Cup Champion. That's thirteen drivers, owners, and team members along with their countless number of fans that still have every reason to remain optimistic and excited about their prospects for the final stretch of races. And, truth be told, every NASCAR fan, although maybe pledging primary allegiance to a driver outside the Top 10 as the Chase begins, will have an alternate driver/team that they feel an affinity for, and will root for their good fortune and success during the championship run.
Traditionalists need not feel that they have sold out by embracing the 10-race, Top 10 free-for-all Championship format that is now in place. It's a playoff; all the other major sports do it. Sports exist because they entertain, and the Chase certainly has increased the entertainment value to our sport. The Top 10 Chase to the Championship is clearly one of the good decisions that Brian France and NASCAR have made. It would have been great 20, or even 30 years ago. Oh man, what kind of stories would race historians be recalling now had the likes of Petty, Yarborough, Pearson, Allison or Waltrip competed under today's championship format.
NASCAR purists may or may not have valid complaints concerning the vastly changing landscape of the premier stock car series, but sometimes change is for the better, and this is one of those times. The first two seasons of the new points format have left the question of who would be crowned the season's champion in doubt until the last lap of the last race of the season. There's every reason to believe that the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Chase to the Championship will once again leave fans, old and new to the sport, sitting on the edges of their seats in similar anticipation.
Thanks, Brian France.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nice Tommy, and well put.
There have been a few articles against the Chase popping up recently. Mostly from the newspaper types. It seems the argument is still the same, although the wrapper differs.
The argument is that the current point system no longer rewards consistency. That because the points are reset, it is unfair and penalizes drivers that are consistent through the season prior to the chase. For example, killing JJ’s points lead that he’s worked so hard to get.
While in a literal sense it might be somewhat of an argument, it fails to really stand up to any tests. Even with the Chase, it still rewards consistency.
1) You have to be consistent enough to make the dance after Richmond.
2) You still have to keep your act together after Richmond if you’re in, or you’re out of it.
The Chase isn’t perfect, and neither was the system prior to the Chase. There’s going to be some tweaks after Homestead, so we’ll see what it brings.
The same argument could be used for any other sport with a playoff system. What about a football team that goes 14 and 2 into the playoffs and gets dumped? They built up an incredible season, all for not. Same with baseball, basketball, or hockey.
All the Chase does is break down the teams consistency into two runs. Consistent enough to make it, and consistent enough to win it.
It is a challenge within a challenge, and the best team prevails. The teams know this, and now strategicly apply their efforts accordingly. Make the Chase, then close the deal.
OK, Tommy, I admit I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the Chase. I don’t think it’s fair to teams like (this year)the 17 and 48, who are having true championship-caliber runs. Plus, if a team is in tenth place, maybe 450 points out, with ten races left they are obvioulsy having a good year-but having a championship year is another story.
The format worked last year-Tony Stewart was consistent all year and deserved his title. The 2004 Chase was a disaster-the tenth place guy going in WON-and if you look at his numbers all year, he did not have a true championship season-he got lucky.
Now rumor has NASCAR adding more teams to the Chase next year. What needs to be done, if NASCAR wants to emphasize winning, especially during the Chase, is reward it more, not reward more teams who aren’t doing it. It’s already been illustrated that a team can have a decent but not stellar season and win the whole thing. (The whole “better to be lucky than good” concept) Great concept for winning races, terrible concept for crowning a champion.
You make some great points, Tommy. I guess I’m just not ready to jump ship.
Let’s also remember that sometimes whether or not you win is out of your control. Just ask Carl Edwards. Sometimes you can be championship caliber but be knocked out by some field filler. Jeff Gordon would be in fourth place if he hadn’t been knocked out of it in Bristol. Carl would likely be in 12th place if Tony hadn’t knocked him out at Pocono. Two years ago, Jeremy was knocked out in the first race of the chase and could never get his momentum back. This is the one area where I wish NASCAR better policed on track activity. It isn’t fair that a whole season can be called a failure for something not of your own making.
I guess if you prefer ‘racertainment’ to really racing, the crapshoot was custom made for you. Playoffs work for sports where not all the teams play each other every weekend. Not the case with Nascar. When was the last time someone finished 5th in a baseball game? Then, to add insult to injury, adding more teams to the ‘finals’ simply waters down an already weak product. fading attendance and TV ratings have to be telling you something isn’t working. An artificial playff made to please a TV network who is already on the way out…yeah, that’s good business.
I think that racing fans and others (such as yourself?) are simply going to have to “agree to disagree” on this one. If you’re a fan of manufactured drama, like so-called “reality TV” shows, then the Chase is right up your alley. If you simply want to watch good racing, then it’s meaningless fluff. I fall into the latter category.
The individual excitement of each race (which is also suffering now) is all I really want. If someone wants to crown a champion at the end of it all, well that’s OK too. However, the aforementioned “champion” should ideally be the one who performed the best overall for the duration of the season. Not the driver with the least bad luck in the last handful of races (after being given a “Lucky Dog” to get him back in the hunt).
“Other sports do it” isn’t good enough. I’m not a fan of “other sports” for a reason. Given the current trend, I probably won’t be a fan of this one for much longer either. The Car of Tomorrow will probably mean a lot of Fans of Yesterday waving adios. After over 25 years as a fan, I’ll probably be one of ‘em.
You make some good points on your statement but here is the problem, NASCAR has forsaken it’s past for the future. It’s a simple and plain fact, you must remember where you come from to have hope of a existince in the future. I have no problem with the Chase, if it were somewhere else. NASCAR is suppose to be about proving who is the best over 36 races and instead we get 43 cars racing trying to just stay in the top 10 for 26 races so that they can go into the “playoffs”.
Yes, if the points were as they were back in 2003 we would have only 2 guys realistically running for the championship but that was the point of a being a Cup champion. It wasn’t because you were the best for 10 races at the end of the year, it was because you were the best all season long. Now instead of racing you have teams going out there points racing all season long just so that they can stay in the top 10 points. It use to be they went out there and raced all season long and let the points handle themselves. Yes one man would sometimes get a big lead and there would be a couple behind him trying to play catch up. He was good over the whole season though, he had earned that right.
I hear all the talk now about how the Chase was devised to create a playoff atmosphere in NASCAR but everyone seems to have forgotten that in all reality it was suppose to be devised to stop 2003 from being repeated because we saw a man win the championship with only 1 win through the entire season. Now, in all fairness a team could go out there and just stay in the top 10 in points all year, making it into the chase and stay out of trouble and walk away with a championship without a single win. You ask me, that would make for one boring championship.
The fans don’t really worry about the points, they care about racing, they want to see side by side action. Thanks to the chase and Mr. France’s dream of creating a media friendly entertainment giant, we have lost the real NASCAR. Instead of having tracks that test the drivers and crews like Darlington and Pocono that are one of a kind tracks, we have the “cookie cutter” tracks. I don’t care if the track is built in Hollywood, so long as it makes the racing interesting. I want to see diversity, that’s why I’m looking forward to Toyota coming in. I just want to see some traditions respected by the new head of NASCAR instead of being so idly throwen a side so that Mr. France can impress his new Hollywood friends. Yes every sport must grow or it will never really amount to anything, but it must also remain true to it’s past or will topple and die!
Yep, that’s right! EVERYONE should have a shot at the Championship, regardless if they have earned it or not. Gee, sounds like the theoretical thinking of one half of our government. You decide which half.
I agree with Tommy 100%.
I read the responses and its typical. Can I ask what was so great that it needed to be held on to? Thats what I dont get. I thought the old point system was old, tired, and it wore out its welcome in racing.
Every tries to act like “It was soooo much better back in the day” Which day was that? The day Bobby Allison won Daytona with 2 cars on the lead lap? The day Bobby won Dover with 2nd place 3 laps down? Or how about recent memory of 1998 when Jeff Gordon won by 400 points with a 1,400 point lead on 7th, on Dale Earnhardt no less!
Of course people will bring up the first Chase and say “Look, a wild card won, see, it didnt work” But last year Tony Stewart was crowned champion in the 2nd Chase ever, and would have won it under the infamous “Old System” as well and guess what? A heck of lot more drivers and teams had something to show up to work for in Sept & Oct, over “We’re working on next year”
Two Chases in the books, and I would say it went 50/50 so far. Sure the old system provided some exciting years. Remember 1992, 14 years ago? That usually gets plugged in right about now. “Look at 1992” like that was a reason to hold on to the old system. Dont get me wrong, I loved the old days too, but just like now, there were great races, and there were some real snoozers too.
If the Chase went 50/50 so far, I bet we can find a ton more years where the season wasnt all that exciting under the old system over when it was. Lets give the 50/50 a chance. The odds so far are in its favor.
I do believe we will see more years like last year where the cream rises to the top more times than not with the Chase and the “real” Champion is rightfully crowned.
Imagine that. A guy cant dominate thru April and coast the rest of the way like we’ve seen so many times in recent memory. Anyone else sick of hearing about the “Big Picture” before the Chase in 2003? I know I was.
Tommy is right. People are afraid of change. If the Chase pulls off another year like 2005, with edge of your seat racing heading up to Richmond and a Champion who is rightfully crowned by actually earning it down the stretch GASP then chalk up 2 out of 3 seasons for the Chase. Can we find that excitment under the infamous “old system?” You’d have to look real hard to find it, I can promise you that.
The old system got to be so boring that Nascar even sold us on this “Magical Top 10” in the points at seasons end like that was this great achievement. ZZzzzzz. Terry Labonte going from 11th in the points to 10th in the last race just didnt give this fan goose bumps.
If the Chase goes like I think it will this year in its 3rd year of existence, I think Meatloaf would have said it best…. “2 out of 3 aint bad”
What a crock!
The chase for the chump points scam was, is and always will be scripted BS carnie gimmick. It has turned what was the best racing in the world into just another stupid, insulting and irrelevent network sitcom. And now HRH Brian can’t figure out why the major media doesn’t cover his silly little series? Hey Brian, the major media doesn’t cover pro wrestling either… GET IT?
Form follows function, that’s the way it is. Was the old points race boring? Sure it was, it was a symptom not the problem. The problem is all the teams are not near as competitive as Bill France and Nascar would lead us to think.
You want a good points race? Then structure the Cup series so money isn’t the deciding factor. There was a time when you could show up at a race, make the field and stand a chance even without sponsorship. Now you need 20 engineers, manufacture support, and a sponsor with deep pockets to even stand a chance. Nascar wants to improve it’s profit? do it with good racing, that’s what brought them to the dance not 19yr olds with great mug shot’s.
If you want to take the dollars out then Nascar needs to collect telmetry from all the cars and pass it out to teams after the race. If you run like crap at a track you go look at the data from a team that ran well.